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Part 1: Forgiven First

Let’s take a look at the very origin of forgiveness for the human race by turning back the clock to Genesis 3. What happened after Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden? Well, there were consequences. First, the couple was sentenced to a life of pain and hard labor, neither of which they had ever experienced in the sin­less perfection of Eden. Then they were expelled from the garden paradise they had always known and thrust into a sin-laden world to fend and provide for themselves. That’s the bad news.

But the good news is that God forgave the sinful couple He had lovingly created to have sweet, intimate, perfect fellowship with Him. Furthermore, He clothed them (Genesis 3:21) and sent them out to have a new life as opposed to the death their sin mer­ited. Though their new home in the world was nothing as lovely and perfect as what they had experienced in the garden (verses 17-19), God provided for their needs.

Forgiveness back then began with God, and it still does today. God took the initiative to forgive Adam and Eve’s sin. His first act of forgiveness and cleansing toward them was to clothe them with the skins of sacrificed animals. The physical deaths suffered by the animals should have been theirs, but it was the animals that died — a preview of Jesus’ substitutionary death for our sins.

In this act of providing animal skins to cover the nakedness of the man and woman, the Almighty set up a system for forgiving the sins of His people. That system found its final sacrifice for the for­giveness of sin in the death of Jesus. Throughout the Bible, God the Father refers to Himself as the God of forgiveness. And this forgive­ness was modeled for us in the life and death of Jesus, God’s Son.

What confidence is yours when you know that you are forgiven in Christ! That forgiveness of sin produces life everlasting, which you began participating in from the moment of salvation. When Christ is your Savior, God’s Holy Spirit comes to reside in you. That means you can exhibit Christ-like behavior (Galatians 5:22-23).

Here’s how it works. Christ in you enables you to reflect Christ-­like character. For instance, it allows you to be “longsuffering” or to show “patience.” Longsuffering or patience refers to your ability to endure injuries inflicted by others and your willingness to accept annoying or painful situations. In Christ you are capa­ble of not only withstanding great pain and suffering inflicted by others, but you also possess the strength and power of Christ to forgive — with His love — those who cause the hurt.

A Prayer to Pray

Lord Jesus, thank You for forgiving my sin, and help me in turn to forgive others. Search my heart for situa­tions in which I’m not fully forgiving a wrong inflicted upon me. Whenever I recall the injury, pain, or mem­ory of that hurt, let the beauty of Your forgiveness wash over me. Give me your love and perspective to forgive. Amen.

Find more encouragement to follow in Jesus’ footsteps in my book, A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus.

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Read Part 1: Forgiven First on Elizabeth & Jim George.


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